How To Gain Flexibility For Dance

How To Gain Flexibility For Dance

Photograph by: Madison Lavern

Have you always been wondering how ballerinas can perform arabesque, how breakdancers can do the monkey flip, and how dance moves such as the straight leg scorpion seem like a piece of cake for jazz dancers? 

Well, the one thing in common amongst these dance moves is that they all require one to have good flexibility in order to execute them. Hence, moderate ‘flexibility training’ is certainly essential. 

However, apart from ‘flexibility training’,  there are also other undeniable factors that can make a difference in helping you to gain flexibility fast. With that said, this article will be the perfect guide to show you exactly how you can gain flexibility for dance.

1. Stretches

Stretches are nevertheless the most crucial factor in improved flexibility. 

Doing stretches in the morning helps to warm up and relieve tension, while stretches at night help you to relax your muscle group. These two optimal timings of the day are when our muscles are at their most supple state and hence it is ideal to do some effective stretches if you want to increase your overall body flexibility. 

Below are some static stretching exercises (for different body parts)  to loosen your body up:

Photograph by: Wee Lee

Shoulder

Lying Pectoral Stretch - Lie face down with both arms extended to the sides so your upper body is in a T shape. Push off the ground with your left hand and slowly roll your weight onto your right side. You should feel the stretch in your right-side pectoral muscles. Hold for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. (Effectiveness: 8/10)

Seated Shoulder Squeeze - Sit on the floor, chair or stability ball with knees bent, and feet flat. Clasp hands together behind the lower back. Straighten arms, while squeezing shoulders blades together. Hold a few seconds then release, and keep repeating. (Effectiveness: 8/10)

Triceps

Triceps Stretch - Stand with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your left elbow straight up while bending your arm. Grab your left elbow with your right hand, and pull your left elbow toward your head with light pressure. Hold 15 to 30 seconds, then switch elbows. (Effectiveness: 9/10)

Seated Shoulder Squeeze -  Sit on the floor, chair or stability ball with knees bent, and feet flat. Clasp hands together behind the lower back. Straighten arms, while squeezing shoulders blades together. Hold a few seconds then release. (Effectiveness: 8/10)

Overhead Triceps Stretch - Extend your right arm to the ceiling, then bend at the elbow to bring the right palm toward the center of your back, resting your middle finger along your spine. Use your left hand to gently push your elbow in toward the center and down. Hold this stretch 30 seconds for three to four repetitions on each side. (Effectiveness: 8/10)

Back: 

Tricep Stretch  Stand with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your left elbow straight up while bending your arm. Grab your left elbow with your right hand, and pull your left elbow toward your head with light pressure. Hold 15 to 30 seconds, then switch elbows. (Effectiveness: 9/10)

Standing Hamstring Stretch - Stand and cross your right foot in front of your left. Slowly lower your forehead to your right knee by bending at the waist. Keep both knees straight and hold this stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds. (Effectiveness: 9/10)

Lunge With Spinal Twist - Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh. Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling. (Effectiveness: 10/10)

Hips: 

Extended Child’s Pose  - Sit on your heels, then fold the upper body forward over the thighs, extending the arms over the head. The hands, forearms, and headrest on the ground and the feet stay together while the knees are apart. (Effectiveness: 9/10)

Butterfly Stretch - Sit up tall with the soles of your feet pressed together and your knees dropped to the sides as far as they will comfortably go. Pull your abdominals gently inward and lean forward from your hips. Grasp your feet with your hands and carefully pull yourself a small way further forward. (Effectiveness: 8/10)

Hamstrings: 

Standing Hamstring Stretch - Stand and cross your right foot in front of your left. Slowly lower your forehead to your right knee by bending at the waist. Keep both knees straight and hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. (Effectiveness: 8/10)

Hurdler Hamstring Stretch - Sit on the floor with one leg out straight. Bend the other leg at the knee and position the sole of that foot against your opposite inner thigh. Extend your arms and reach forward over the one straight leg by bending at the waist as far as possible. Hold this position for 10 seconds. (Effectiveness: 9/10) 

Quadriceps: 

Lunge With Spinal Twist - Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh. Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling. (Effectiveness: 10/10)

Lying Quad Stretch - Lie in a face-down position, propping your head on your left hand. Alternatively, you can lie on your side to perform this stretch. After a couple of seconds, pull your right foot toward your butt and bend your left knee to stabilize yourself. (Effectiveness: 9/10)

Standing Quad Stretch Reach back and grab your left foot in your left hand, keeping your thighs lined up next to each other and left leg in line with the hip. Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side. (Effectiveness: 8/10)

These are some stretches you can consider adding to your daily stretching routine. My personal favorites are Lunge With Spinal Twist, Butterfly Stretch, as well as Extended Child’s Pose!

2. Stay Consistent 

Constant effort is needed if you want to obtain flexibility, as developing flexibility takes time. Thus, the key to this is to create a routine and stick to it. Jennifer Green, the founder of PhysioArts, suggests stretching your biggest problem areas for 5 times a day and holding each stretch for about 30 seconds in order to maximize the effect of your flexibility training. 

Photograph by: Estee Jenssens

Plan out and schedule your flexibility training around the same time every day can undeniably help you to increase your consistency. Dedicating regular stretching sessions can also help your body to adjust better and makes it easier for your body to get used to your stretching exercises, making the entire stretching regime less onerous for yourself. 

3. Incorporate Massage 

Professional athletics used sports massage to relax after training. Regular massage is beneficial as it improves your flexibility and range of motion.

According to MassageEnvy, massage stimulates blood flow as well as the production of the body’s natural lubricants to keep flexibility at maximum. Massage increases flexibility in tight muscles by stretching out muscle fibers and reducing tension. 

Photograph by: Alan Caishan

With this said, if you happen to have some spare time between your stretching sessions, why not consider going for some massage therapy during weekends for relaxation? Since incorporating massage can even enhance the overall effect of your usual flexibility training, it’s exactly the perfect example of killing two birds with one stone!

4. Sufficient Water Intake 

Our muscles contain about 79% of water (that’s quite a lot!), which is why we need to drink an adequate amount of water each day in order to hydrate ourselves. Dehydration can make us inflexible, as your muscles will not be able to extend or contract according to your stretching exercises. It can serve as a hindrance to your fitness and stretching goals. Thus, it is imperative to stay hydrated as it will undoubtedly support your performance and prepare your body well for flexibility training.

Photograph by: Jane Sabeth

All in all, gaining flexibility for dance cannot be achieved in one night. People who are not born flexible like us need to put in blood, sweat, and tears to attain flexibility. However, if you keep this handy guide in the back of your mind, it can surely succor you in gaining flexibility in a healthy and effectual manner!

Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Author: Olivia Lim
I’m currently an undergraduate from NTU, and I love writing articles about lifestyle, fitness, and dance. Dance has always been my hobby and learning how to dance has incentivised me to improve my flexibility over the years.
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